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To what extent was the end of Fleet Street the result of newspaper industry industrial relations?

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Introduction

To what extent was the end of Fleet Street the result of newspaper industry industrial relations? Fleet Street in London had been the dominant centre of the British newspaper industry since its origins in the fifteenth century. But towards the end of the twentieth century, Fleet Street gradually ceased to be the centre of British journalism. This was partly due to newspaper industry industrial relations, although this was not the only factor. There were also a range of economic, political and technological factors, which all contributed to Fleet Street's decline. Over the years, Fleet Street acquired a reputation for poor labour relations. As Cleverly argues, Fleet Street was the scene of the "most bizarre relationship between management and unions."1 There was a history of industrial disputes over everything from wage levels to the editorial views of the newspapers. Newspaper industry industrial relations played a large part in the decline of Fleet Street as the dominant British newspaper production centre. This was many reasons; the bizarre industrial relationship led newspaper owners to seek for a way to distance themselves from the unions and the problems they caused. The National Graphic Association (NGA) and Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) ...read more.

Middle

This new technology also meant that profits could be boosted as newspapers could be distributed to new areas, which were not practical to distribute to from their London printing centres; so more newspapers could be sold as the paper's circulation increased. Thus, technological advances contributed to the end of Fleet Street as the dominant newspaper centre as it weakened the need for Fleet Street to exist as a printing centre, and had economic advantages if printing centres were built around the country. Political factors also played a part in the end of Fleet Street as the dominant news centre. This is because the election of 1979 brought into power the Conservative Party, headed by Margaret Thatcher, who supported management over unions and, thus, provided the political context for newspaper owners to reform the newspaper industry and end the power of the printing unions. The Conservative government, through its introduction of the Employment Acts of 1980 and 1982, which restricted the power of unions, and its actions in industrial disputes in the early 1980s, highlighted that if the newspaper industry was reformed, to reduce the power of printing unions, the government would do little to support the unions. ...read more.

Conclusion

prove a worthwhile investment as the hold the printing unions had on the industry would be broken and, thus, labour costs would be reduced. Recognising these benefits, most national newspaper publishers also sold their historic sites in the centre of London, and moved to cheaper properties. For example, just a week after Murdoch's success, the Guardian announced that it would adopt new technology and move its production from Fleet Street to London's Docklands. In conclusion, 1989 marked the end of Fleet Street as the dominant newspaper production centre as this was when the last newspaper rolled off the printing press in Fleet Street. To a large extent this was caused by newspaper industry industrial relations between printing unions and the newspaper management. Although, it was not the only factor. The break from Fleet Street, in part to break the power of the printing unions and the economic problems they caused, would not have been possible without technological developments, a change in the political environment, the other economic benefits breaking from Fleet Street would create, and Murdoch proving that a move away from Fleet Street would be successful. But it was the economic pressures the printing unions put in newspaper owners that were the dominant factors persuading owners to move away from Fleet Street. ...read more.

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